You may recognize Hayley Miller, MS, RD, LDN from our Women’s Issue where she wrote about her experience in treating women with mental health and drug-related problems. Hayley also has much experience in the field of eating disorders, so we were thrilled to have her speak about Binge Eating Disorder and the underlying issues/factors that contribute to this eating disorder during our BED Week! Enjoy the post and remember – if you are interested in following along with BED Week, you can join the event on facebook or follow it on twitter by using the hashtags #BEDWEEK, #DSM5, #BEDAWARENESS, #EATINGDISORDER and #ED. We will also be taking questions (option to remain anonymous) at the email address BEDWEEKQUESTIONS@gmail.com for our live tweetchat on May 29th at 12-1:00 pm (EST)! Binge Eating Disorder is a newly recognized disorder that has been in the news more and more. I didn’t know much about it before entering the field of eating disorders but I have been seeing it more in my work with women with eating disorders. Binge Eating Disorder (BED) specifically is more common in women than men, and those that are diagnosed with it are more likely to be overweight or obese. People with BED find it harder to lose weight than those who do not have the disorder. Just because someone is overweight does not mean they have this disorder. Binge Eating Disorder is characterized by eating large amounts of food in a 2 hour period of time (Safer, Telch, & Chen, 2009). People with BED eat until they feel overly full and describe it as feeling like they can’t stop themselves from eating more and more. The reasons someone might develop BED has to do with many factors. Since Binge Eating Disorder is considered a newer disorder, there is not as much research on it as compared with Bulimia Nervosa and Anorexia Nervosa. Nevertheless, research shows that people with BED have higher rates of lifetime major depression at 49% and any other Axis I disorder which includes bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, anxiety disorders at 59%. Also, those with BED were also found to have higher rates of alcohol or drug abuse (13-15% of the Binge Eating Disorder population studied). Those with Binge Eating Disorder were found to be four times more likely than those without BED to have personality disorders. Personality disorders describe people with different ways of relating to others which interrupt their everyday lives. Those with personality disorders might have trouble keeping a job because of their ways of interacting with others. They are usually harder to get along with than those without personality disorders because of their severe issues with relating to others (Safer, Telch, & Chen, 2009). Many people with personality disorders have suffered emotional, physical, or sexual abuse. It becomes very hard for these people to trust others because of the severe trauma they have been through. People with Binge Eating Disorder have higher concern for body weight and shape than those without eating disorders. They also have “more fears of weight gain, a higher preoccupation with food and weight, and greater body dissatisfaction” (Safer, Telch, & Chen, 2009, p. 7). BED sufferers have these concerns despite their actual body weight and shape. Most people would think that those with BED are overweight, but there are still those suffering with this disorder that are of an average weight. People with Binge Eating Disorder report higher levels of stress than those that don’t have the disorder especially when they are overweight or obese because of sexual life issues, public activities, anxiety around eating, etc. (Safer, Telch, & Chen, 2009). In studies of those with BED, the reasons people binge are stress and negative mood (Safer, Telch, & Chen, 2009). Think of a time when something stressful was going on, most people seek something comfortable. For some, comfort is food. Or think of the media, on most romantic comedies where the woman is upset about a breakup with her boyfriend, she eats a lot of ice cream. If people are taught from a young age to use food as comfort or people use food for comfort and it seems to work for them, then they will continue to use it. Also, think of the media when someone is stressed. What do they do? They go out and get drunk. Drinking and using drugs allows the person to forget for the moment how they were feeling and makes them feel better. This is one of the reasons why people develop addictions to food and drugs. In other research on eating disorders, “The three factors most commonly found in the literature to relate to the development of eating disorders in adolescents include relationships with their mothers, their susceptibility to peer pressure, and their responses to media messages” (Peterson, Paulson, Williams, 2007). The formation of eating disorders in the research usually includes a problem with the mother – daughter relationship. Adolescent girls at times will interpret their parents as encouraging them to lose weight when that was not the message that was intended. “In girls, parental and peer discussion and encouragement of weight loss, rather than criticism, predicted disordered eating behaviors; whereas, in boys, maternal and peer encouragement predicted binge eating and weight loss behaviors.” (Peterson, Paulson, Williams, 2007). According to Peterson, Paulson, Williams (2007), relationships with mothers, media messages, and susceptibility to peer pressure predicted eating disorder behaviors. Mothers’ pressures on their children to lose weight appeared to have a strong influence on adolescents’ views of their physical appearances. Boys perceived higher pressure from the media but lower pressure from mothers to be attractive. This predicts greater reports of dieting behavior and fewer reports of bulimic thoughts and behaviors in young men (Peterson, Paulson, Williams, 2007). In conclusion, there are many different reasons people develop eating disorders – especially Binge Eating Disorder. It can be a problem with relationships with parents, personal mental health struggles, genetic predisposition to cravings for food, or another addiction that is generalized to food. Whatever the reason for the development of eating disorders, the reason is never about hunger or food. It is pain inside that is dealt with by focusing on food and body image rather than the reasons that are buried deep inside the person. References: Peterson, K., Paulson, S., & Williams, K. (2007). Relations of eating disorder symptomology with perceptions of pressures from mother, peers, and media in adolescent girls and boys. Sex Roles, published online: 14 August 2007. Safer, D. L., Telch, C. F., & Chen, E. Y. (2009). Dialectical Behavior Therapy for Binge Eating and Bulimia. New York: NY: The Guilford Press. Hayley Miller, MS, RD, LDN received her undergraduate degree from Marywood University in Nutrition and Dietetics and received her Master’s degree from Chestnut Hill College in Clinical and Counseling Psychology. She currently works at Rehab After Work running an adolescent intensive outpatient program and as the Seeds of Hope Eating Disorder intensive outpatient program’s dietitian. Any information on either of these programs can be found on www.rehabafterwork.com or at www.mylightprogram.com. Prior to working at Rehab After Work and Seeds of Hope, Hayley worked in nursing homes and a hospital as a dietitian and worked with adults with drug addictions. Hayley focuses on restoring the clients’ nutritional status as well as the reasons behind their addictions.